Saving Lives and Staying Alive

Edited by Michaël Neuman and Fabrice Weissman

In Saving Lives and Staying Alive, the authors look at the drivers of the professionalisation of humanitarian security and its impact on humanitarian practices, with a specific focus on Syria, the Central African Republic and kidnapping in the Caucasus.

Most humanitarian aid organisations now have departments specifically dedicated to protecting the security of their personnel and assets. The management of humanitarian security has gradually become the business of professionals who develop data collection systems, standardised procedures, norms, and training meant to prevent and manage risks.

A large majority of aid agencies and security experts see these developments as inevitable - all the more so because of quantitative studies and media reports concluding that the dangers to which aid workers are today exposed are completely unprecedented. Yet, this trend towards professionalisation is also raising questions within aid organisations, MSF included. Can insecurity be measured by scientific means and managed through norms and protocols? How does the professionalisation of security affect the balance of power between field and headquarters, volunteers and the institution that employs them? What is its impact on the implementation of humanitarian organisations' social mission? Are there alternatives to the prevailing security model(s) derived from the corporate world?

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Michaël Neuman, Director of Studies at MSF–Crash.
Michaël Neuman joined MSF in 1999, alternating between missions in the field and positions at MSF headquarters. From 2008—2010, Neuman served on the board of directors of the French and US sections of MSF. He is co-editor of Humanitarian Negotiations Revealed: The MSF Experience (2012).

Fabrice Weissman, Coordinator and a Director of Studies at MSF–Crash.
A specialist in Sub-Saharan Africa, Fabrice Weissman has been working with MSF since 1995, and has spent many years in the field. He is the editor of In the Shadow of ‘Just Wars’: Violence, Politics and Humanitarian Action (2004), and co-editor of Humanitarian Negotiations Revealed: The MSF Experience (2012).